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Thanksgiving Feasting Favorites

24 Nov

Although tradition dominates the Thanksgiving feast, leaving little room for variation much less something entirely new, here are a few favorites and tips to stir up inspiration prior to the big week ahead.

COOKING THE BIRD

For a turkey deep in flavor and a moist, yet firm consistency, try following the award-winning Judy Bird technique inspired by the roast chicken made famous by the late Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. (See my post here about the chef, her philosophy and restaurant and her recipe for Salmon with White Beans, Bacon and Red Wine.)

NOTE: I do not follow Step 7 and start the bird in the oven breast side down.

Sage and Bay Salt Dry Brine
Sage and Bay Salt Dry Brine

The turkey is dry brined for three days although I have done it for much less with equally good results. Here is a tasty dry brine recipe.

APPETIZERS

Ellen's Nuts
Ellen’s Nuts
Rustic Bakery Meyer Lemon and Chickpea Spread
Meyer Lemon and Chickpea Spread, recipe from Rustic Bakery
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips, by Minimalist Baker
Crab Cake Bites
Crab Cake Bites, from Savory Simple
Artichokes
from The Real Deal Marin

 ACCOMPANIMENTS

Tyler Florence Mashed Potatoes
Tyler Florence Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Creamed Pearl Onions
Thomas Keller’s Creamed Pearl Onion, via Smitten Kitchen
Ina Garten Spinach Gratin
Ina Garten Spinach Gratin via The Food Network

STOCK and GRAVY

How to Make Stock, A video tutorial with simple instructions from Mario Batali on Food 52.

How to Make Gravy, from The New York Times Cooking

DESSERT

Although no dessert would be shunned, Apple Pie is a must. If you have any doubt, read this, and you may get lured into making it a regular closer to your feast too, if it isn’t already.

    Butter Pie Crust, from Epicurious

    Crust Tipsfrom Joy the Baker

    THE Apple Pie, inspired by Kierin Baldwin

    Ala Mode, a basic vanilla ice cream recipe

    Best Apples for Piefrom Baking Bites

LEFTOVERS

Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise, by Giada De Laurentiis
Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise, by Giada De Laurentiis
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Tetrazzini, from The Real Deal Marin 
Loaded Turkey Panini
Loaded Turkey Panini, from Pinch of Yum

 (This is a good framework that you can alter based on what you have leftover.)

If you try one of these recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. Or take a photo and post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #realdealmarin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Amazing Artichoke – Pan Roasted with Garlic, Basil Mayonnaise

20 May

My first introduction to artichokes was an unpleasant one. Just after college, I was invited to have dinner with my friend and his parents at their home in a high-end New York suburb. They had the kind of dining room table that is perfect for Thanksgiving but otherwise does not promote intimate conversation. We each had a side on which to hold court.

Artichoke

To start off the meal, we were presented with an artichoke, an unusual budding flower head that was entirely unfamiliar. Certainly New Jersey, my birth place, provides impressive crops of corn on the cob and beefsteak tomatoes, but these? Since 100 percent of all artichokes sold commercially in the United States are grown in California, it’s not a wonder that we had never crossed paths, but still.

What could I do but mouth a plea of “Help…!” to my friend across the expanse of table. He got the hint and I was able to imitate my way through navigating this tricky thistle. It was equally disconcerting when asparagus, another flowering perennial plant species that had not seen its way to my plate before, was served as a side dish. It was a challenging dinner.

Although neither item won me over first time around, both have become favorites, especially considering Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world, is now a not too distant neighbor.

PURCHASING

Artichokes are readily available in spring and fall. Select globes that are deep green and have petals that are tightly closed rather than splayed out and dehydrated looking. They should feel somewhat heavy for their size and will squeak when squeezed.

Artichokes

To store, sprinkle with a little water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Do no wash before storing. They should last a week.

PREPARATION

With a sharp or serrated knife, slice off the top 1 inch and most of the stem of the artichoke, snap off the small, tough outer leaves and with scissors, snip off thorny tips.

From there, go through the following steps:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Immediately add to lemon water where they will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days until ready to cook.

Here’s to enjoying them while you’re young!

Pan Roasted Artichokes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lemons, quartered
  • 4 medium to large artichokes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 to 6 peeled garlic cloves, crushed

PREPARATION

  1. Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze in the juice from the four quarters of one lemon.
  2. With a sharp or serrated knife, slice off the top 1 inch and most of the stem of the artichokes, pull off the small, tough outer leaves and with scissors, snip off the thorny tips.
  3. Cut in half or quarters lengthwise.
  4. Separate the first few, purple-tinged leaves in the center from the base by pulling them away from the choke with your fingers.
  5. Use a spoon or melon baller to scrape the fuzzy center from the choke. (See slide show above.)
  6. Immediately put artichokes in the lemon water to help avoid discoloration. Keep in the water until ready to cook; they may be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Just before cooking, spread the artichokes on paper towels, sliced side down, and pat dry.
  7. When ready to cook, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high flame. Warm the olive oil until nearly smoking. Sprinkle the pan generously with salt and pepper.
  8. Carefully place the artichokes sliced side down in the pan. Do not overlap. Season with more salt and pepper and slip the garlic into the spaces between the artichokes.
  9. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally to keep the artichokes from sticking, until they are evenly browned underneath, 6 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, lift 1 or 2 artichokes up to check for doneness.
  10. Add the quarters of the second lemon to the pan, place a piece of foil over the pan and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and keep covered for 30 to 45 minutes or if longer, briefly re-heat over low flame.
  11. Transfer the artichokes to a serving platter. Squeeze the juice from the cooked lemon wedges into the pan and whisk to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Pour the juice over the artichokes, garnish with the remaining lemon quarters and serve with Garlic, Basil Dip.

Adapted from: The Food Channel

 

Garlic, Basil Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

PREPARATION

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Source: Epicurious

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day

8 May

Jamie Oliver Blog of the MonthIt is an honor to have been selected April’s Blog of the Month by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution team. I became a fan of his before he was known as a food activist when a friend raved about a recipe she’d made from her new cookbook The Naked Chef. Once I got past what I assumed to be a typical literal reaction and was relieved of a somewhat disturbing image, I got to hear in detail about the book’s amazing but simple recipes like Rosemary, Garlic, Lemon MarinadePork with Peaches and Huge Yorkshire Puddings.

These days, Jamie Oliver is well-known for his pioneering efforts to address the childhood obesity crisis in the U.S. and Great Britain. He is a proponent of cooking in a simple,  unadorned way (hence the nickname) mirroring my own Make It Simple Cooking Philosophy which is to:

Stock up on whole staples and fresh produce and proteins, use the guidelines of recipes and your intuition, enjoy what you create and worry not about perfection.

FOOD REVOLUTION DAY – FRIDAY, MAY 16

Food Revolution DayNext Friday, May 16th is FOOD REVOLUTION DAY, Jamie Oliver’s global call-to-action which he hopes will inspire the cooking and eating of good, real food and raise awareness of how what we eat affects our health and well-being.

The focus this year is on educating kids about food and where it comes from and equipping them with basic cooking skills.

Healthy diets are critical to healthy lives but our children lack the knowledge to make the right food choices or the skills to create healthy, wholesome and nutritious meals. Jamie Oliver

For a list of ideas on how you and your kids, school, workplace or community can participate and celebrate, click HERE.

GETTING KIDS COOKING

What was the trigger that shifted my son from cooking spectator to once-in-a-while initiator and leader in the kitchen?

Crepes

Had I suggested he make crepes or some other reasonably enticing item on his own, he likely would have insisted that many other priorities took precedence. It was cooking with a small group of classmates for a project that gave him an appreciation for the act of creating something delicious.

If cooking is not a part of the home routine, it is even more imperative that children learn at least the basics of cooking in school.

We need every child to understand where food comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their body. This is about setting kids up with the knowledge they need to make better food choices for life. Jamie Oliver

Otherwise, as Alice Waters, the founder of The Edible Schoolyard Project who was recently honored one of Time Magazines most influential people of 2014, has said “We’ll pay out back if we don’t pay up front.

Find a selection of Jamie Oliver’s kid friendly recipes HERE.

MORE ABOUT JAMIE OLIVER

PRIZE WINNING TED TALK: Teach Every Child About Food                 

Jamie Oliver TED Talk

RESOURCES for TEACHERS: Toolkits for Change                                     

Jamie Oliver Toolkits for Change

“These toolkits arm you with facts, empower you with ideas and support you in making real change on the ground. The Food Revolution Team has worked with experts in the field to create toolkits specific to a number of different issues facing our schools. They are meant to be used, printed, shared and passed on! Together we have an opportunity to support schools in making sustainable change.”

BIG RIG TEACHING KITCHEN                                                                         

Big Rig Teaching Kitchen The mission of this 70-foot long mobile kitchen is to, through free teacher training, basic home cooking classes and take-home recipes, improve health and spread food education. The 40 week journey to underserved communities across the state of California winds up its tour in San Diego this month. See a schedule of events HERE.

If you’re celebrating Food Revolution Day next Friday, please share your plans below in the comments!

 

Grilled Cheese: From Home to High End

10 Apr

The grilled cheese sandwich, like many food items, has transitioned from plain to couture. At one time somewhat floppy and slightly soggy with a knack for permeating the kitchen, it has hit the big time with entire cookbooks devoted to the melted sandwich.

What’s not to like? A hot sandwich beats a cold one any day and is much more forgiving. Leftovers take on a tasty new life, a tomato that’s about to turn is revived and a bland slice of bread becomes flavorfully caramelized.

With its grander stature, the grilled cheese has achieved a more fitting designation … The Panini. And the Panini Press has arrived on the top of the list of gadgets that could be considered frivolous were it not for its true usability and value. There’s no end to suitable, delicious combinations – see links to recipes on the bottom of the page. But for an easy pleaser for all ages, try the Mini Panini recipe below for simple goodness. Kids go crazy over these.

PANINI PRESS

If your interest is strictly sandwiches, the well-rated model below will expand your recipe repertoire significantly. The flat vs. ridged plates will more evenly conduct heat and be easier to clean.

Panini Maker

Click for Link to Amazon

But if you’d like to put this device to full use and cook everything from chicken to cakes, go with a ridged-plate model.

Cuisinart Panini Maker

Click for Link to Amazon

Your sandwiches will have marks, but you’ll have a very versatile new cooking appliance.

Grilled Cheese

FROM HOME: The Mini Panini

INGREDIENTS

  • French Baguette, cut in 1/2 inch slices
  • Softened Butter
  • White Cheddar Cheese, sliced
  • Optional: Tomatoes, Spinach, Basil, Bacon, Ham or anything your taste buds find would go well between two slices of bread.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the panini maker according to manufacturers instructions.
  2. Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch pieces. TIP – To avoid having your French bread go rapidly stale after purchasing, slice it into whatever size you typically use (I do a sandwich size and then slice for grilled cheese when defrosted) and freeze in a zip lock bag. Defrost on the counter or slowly in the toaster oven and slice.
  3. Cut or slice the cheese.
  4. Spread butter on one side of each bread slice.
  5. Drop half of them butter side down in the panini plate.
  6. Top with cheese and cover with the second half, butter side up.
  7. Drop top, let sizzle, open and eat.

 TO HIGH END

Farmers Wife

If you’ve ever meandered the farmers markets at the San Rafael Civic Center or Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, you’ve likely come upon The Farmers Wife food truck and the emanating wafts of their outstanding melted sandwiches including Farm Egg & ArugulaKimchee & Avocado and Magruder Ranch Smoked Ham, Gruyère & Mustard.  Menu changes daily. They’re on the pricey side but well worth it.

Owners Kendra and Paul Kolling are on a mission to provide the best in locally sourced, seasonal products in keeping with the farming legacy of their extended family. Paul’s grandmother was the inspiration behind the unique, heirloom flavor blends in Nana Mae Organics apple juices which you can also find at the farmers market. With over 25 heirloom varieties, Paul farms in harmony with nature to bring out the best in the land.

Nana Mae

And Kendra, as The Farmers Wife, sources the ingredients of her outstanding food truck sandwiches from local farms which set them a far notch above.

AND IN BETWEEN

The Melt TruckAnd finally, another eating option at the Corte Madera Town Center. Parked outside the center entrance you’ll find The Melt Bus and a few tables for dining.

Melt BusThe menu of all-natural, wholesome items includes everything from the classic grilled cheese to braised short rib and pepper jack to aged swiss, portobello and grilled onion. They also have soups and milkshakes as well as breakfast options.

The Melt Bus is open Friday to Sunday, 11am-3pm.

RECIPE LINKS

Here are a few recipe links worth checking out.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Grilled Figs and Brie

Grilled Figs and Brie

Tomato, Avocado and Pesto

Tomato, Avocado and Pesto

Happy Grilled Cheese Day on April 12th!

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes: A Side Dish or Pillow for Poached Eggs

1 Mar

Sweet Potatoes

When it comes to side dishes, I gravitate to the quick prep/undisturbed cooking options because pre-dinner, a multitude of other interferences insist attention. Weeknights don’t tend to be the time for fuss. The default is to gather a variety of potatoes and/or veggies, toss them onto a baking sheet, glug on some olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and a seasoning salt before setting in the oven. Although the results hit the high mark sometimes more than others, you’ll get a tasty and reliable side staple regardless.

But something about this sweet potato recipe has me hooked. I made it three times last week. Like the stand-by, preparation is simple and there is no need to monitor, but it has a winning flavor and perfect bite every time.

Sweet Potatoes

Reheated leftovers are just as worthy. Or try with poached eggs! (see recipe below)

Nutritional Information

As an added benefit, this tuber vegetable side dish will up the nutrition quotient of your meal:

Low

  • Calories
  • Sodium
  • Saturated Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Glycemic Index

High

  • Dietary Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Beta-Carotine
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Magnesium and Vitamin C

Sweet Potato or Yam?

Surprisingly, both of the above are sweet potatoes. Those yams we think we’re eating at Thanksgiving are more commonly harvested in West Africa are very rarely found in our supermarkets. These two have a slight consistency and taste difference but both work well in this recipe.

Conventional or Organic?

Sweet potatoes are on Environmental Working Groups Clean 15 List so are considered less likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Their strong outer layer would seem to provide a sufficient boundary, but this  video-gone-viral of a little girls’ science experiment could give you pause next time you purchase them. She attempts to grow roots in jars using non-organic, conventional organic and local organic sweet potatoes. I think I’ll be adding a plus one to EWG’s Dirty Dozen List.

For more information on the experiment and Bud Nip, click here.

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Servings: 6-8View or Print Recipe Only

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform sized pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup water

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish or on a sheet pan. Lining with foil will minimize clean up.
  3. Melt butter either in a microwave safe measuring cup or in a small saucepan.
  4. Add rosemary, garlic, 
salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat potatoes and spread 
into a single layer.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Add water to baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork.

Adapted from It’s a Keeper

Poached Eggs and Bacon/Spinach Over Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet PotatoesINGREDIENTS

  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Leftover)
  • Eggs
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Spinach (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Begin heating a few inches of water in a frying pan.
  2. While waiting, start bacon and/or spinach. See instructions here for cooking bacon in the microwave or oven or on the stovetop. See instructions here for sautéing spinach.
  3. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar to the water which helps to keep the eggs intact.
  4. Break the first egg into a small bowl.
  5. Just as the water is starting to lightly simmer but before it comes to a full boil, turn down the flame to keep it minimally bubbling.
  6. Begin swirling the water with a spoon and gently slide the bowl into the water letting the egg slip out. Add the remaining eggs to the bowl one at a time and repeat the process. (If the white seems to be spreading significantly, you can gently push toward the yolk with a spoon or spatula.)
  7. When done placing the eggs to the water, set the timer for 3 minutes and line a plate with a paper towel.
  8. After 3 minutes, check the eggs. Remove when the whites have set, up to 1 minute more.
  9. Gently remove from the water with a slotted spoon onto the paper towel. If not serving immediately, remove the eggs at 3 minutes when they’re slightly underdone (whites aren’t floating and are close to set.) Place in a bowl of cold water, cover and put in the refrigerator. Reheat for a minute in lightly simmering water.
  10. Heat the potatoes in a microwave or oven. Place on a plate, top with bacon and/or or spinach, slip poached eggs on top.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Thanksgiving: Recipes, Gadgets and Food News

26 Nov

Wordle

EAT

TURKEY

Local Diestel Ranch birds do have that idyllic image tied in. But being fed a 100% vegetarian diet milled right there at the farm and slowly raised in the Sierra Nevada Foothills does increase the price tag.

Diestel

Click on image for more information

Check out this interesting breakdown of what it costs to bring that turkey from farm to feast. A true bargain.

Continue reading

Friday Food: Links to Recipes, Restaurants, Gadgets, News and More

16 Nov

Wordle

Below is a weekly list of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend.

EAT

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks               

Want to innovate the cheese platter this holiday? Check out this appealing new book by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery, two cheese makers based out of Pt. Reyes who share recipes and what it takes to become a cheese pioneer. 

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks

Click on Image for Ordering information

Continue reading

Friday Food: Links to Recipes, Restaurants, Gadgets, News and More

1 Nov

Wordle

Below is a weekly food roundup, locally and beyond, of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend!

EAT

Gluten Free Flours                    

As alternative flours surface more and more, from coconut and corn to millet and amaranth, here is a helpful guide from Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic with information on those that are easy to locate or make. You’ll also find a recipe for her Gluten and Grain Free Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Continue reading

Tomato and Chicken Galettes with Greens

10 Sep

Achieving success with combining the buttery, flaky delight of puff pastry with the juicy, flavorful tomato has eluded me for some time. Puff pastry doesn’t handle liquid too well and tomatoes in the summer are all about juice. Maybe the sun drieds would work, but I make an effort to avoid those jarred chewy bits as best I can. Also, this somewhat impressive effort seems to be a good one for entertaining but it doesn’t (*at least I thought) handle being made ahead too well and therefore necessitates some focus and fussing when socializing poses distraction. Continue reading

Best Roast Chicken with Thyme Lemon Sauce

27 Mar

Roast Chicken with Thyme Lemon SauceAlthough I have written about keeping meal preparations simple, and one of the most basic, quick and delicious recipes is whole roasted chicken, I always seem to struggle with it.  So until I discovered this roast-in-the-frying-pan method, I would not have been one to post confidently about roast chicken.   Continue reading